As a newly ordained priest in my first parish, I would visit the elderly in their homes to bring them Holy Communion. There was one person I will always remember: Mrs. Russo. After I gave her communion, and just before I would leave her home, she would invite me to kneel down before the crucifix which was on her doorpost. Then she would take some holy water from her font that was under the crucifix and offer me God’s blessing. At first, I was taken aback by this gesture, thinking to myself: “Aren’t I the one who was supposed to be giving her the priest’s blessing?” I wondered why the tables seemed to have been turned? But then I quickly realized that this saintly woman truly understood what we Christians do for one another: we bless each other in the name of God.  In fact, Mrs. Russo even blessed God! In other words, she felt so comfortable with God, and felt so deeply connected to me as being part of the family – that she could bless Him (and me) just because we were her family! What a wonderful lesson for me, one that I didn’t learn in the books of theology that I had studied. Our relationship with God is not about who has the power, nor who has the special role. That’s where I was coming from, as I began my new journey of being a priest. Instead, she taught me that our relationship with God is about love. It is about family. And so, she felt free to bless God, to worry about God, to cry when people hurt Him; and she felt free to bless people in His name. She also felt free to want to make sure that nothing harmed me and so the blessing I got from her. Wow! I am sure she never studied theology, but she sure as heck knew how to live out her faith: building it upon love. We just celebrated the holiday of Thanksgiving this past Thursday. The scriptures talked so freely about blessing God: “Bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth (Sirach 50);” “Bless be the name of the Lord both now and forever (Psalm 113).” Do we ever think of blessing God and one another through our prayers? We all share in the power of God’s love. In fact, Vatican Council II reminded us that through our baptism, we all share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  So, in the spirit of Mrs. Russo, I encourage you to bless God more often during this Advent. He is part of your family as you are part of His. Don’t treat Him like He is way above you; He walks beside you and wants you to lean on Him and Him on you as loved ones do!   Happy Advent!              ~Fr. John

Parish Office

14 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03103
Phone: (603) 622-5445